Beer-Braised Bratwurst & Onions (“Beer Brats”)

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Juicy bratwurst and caramelized onions piled into rolls with grainy mustard, “beer brats” make a delicious weeknight supper or game-day dish.

Bratwurst is a German-style fresh link sausage popular in the Upper Midwest, home to many folks of German ethnicity. A specialty of Wisconsin, “beer brats” are a traditional game-day and Oktoberfest dish of juicy bratwurst simmered in beer and onions before grilling, and piled into rolls with lots of grainy mustard and sauerkraut (or other pickled vegetables). This is my one-skillet, weeknight version – no grilling required – that comes together in just 35 minutes. Cooking the bratwurst in beer adds a delicious, slightly bitter flavor that complements the savoriness of the sausage and sweetness of the caramelized onions.

What You’ll Need To Make Beer-Braised Bratwurst & Onions

bratwurst ingredients

I use Johnsonville Original Brats for this recipe; avoid brats already flavored with beer, as the finished dish will taste too bitter, and be sure your bratwurst is fresh (not already cooked).

For the beer, use a lager, which has a clean, crisp, not-too-bitter taste. Lager is a family of beers that includes bright lagers, amber lagers, dark lagers, Oktoberfests, and pilsners. I use Sam Adams Oktoberfest, but Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite are all good options. No need to use anything fancy! If you’d like to avoid alcohol, opt for non-alcoholic beer or chicken broth.

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or nonstick pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bratwurst and sear until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

searing bratwurst

Using tongs, transfer the sausage to a plate; set aside. Add the onions and salt to the skillet.

adding onions to skillet

Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes (do not burn; reduce the heat if necessary).

browned onions in skillet

Place the bratwurst back in the pan on top of the onions.

adding bratwurst back to skillet

Add the beer, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10 minutes.

beer boiling in skillet

Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and continue cooking.

bratwurst and onions after simmering with lid on

Cook until the bratwurst are cooked through and the beer is reduced by about three quarters, 10 to 12 minutes more.

finished bratwurst and onions in skillet

Serve the bratwurst and onions on rolls with mustard and sauerkraut, if desired.

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Beer-Braised Bratwurst & Onions

Juicy bratwurst and caramelized onions piled into rolls with grainy mustard, “beer brats” make a delicious weeknight supper or game-day dish.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 bratwurst (see note)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12 oz) bottle lager beer (see note)

For Serving (Optional)

  • 6 hoagie rolls or hot dog buns
  • Coarse grain mustard
  • Warm sauerkraut

Instructions

  1. In a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or nonstick pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bratwurst and sear until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer the sausage to a plate; set aside. Add the onions and salt to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes (do not burn; reduce the heat if necessary).
  2. Place the bratwurst back in the pan on top of the onions, add the beer, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid, and simmer for 10 minutes (at this point the sausages will be partially cooked through). Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the bratwurst are cooked through and the beer is reduced by about three quarters, 10 to 12 minutes more. Serve the bratwurst and onions on rolls with mustard and sauerkraut, if desired.
  3. Note: I use Johnsonville Original Brats; avoid any brats already flavored with beer, as the finished dish will taste too bitter. Also be sure to purchase fresh (not cooked) sausages.
  4. Note: Lager is a family of beers that includes bright lagers, amber lagers, dark lagers, Oktoberfests, and pilsners. I use Sam Adams Oktoberfest, but Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite are all good options. No need to use anything fancy!
  5. Note: The nutritional information does not include the optional serving ingredients.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 364
  • Fat: 30 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Sodium: 723 mg
  • Cholesterol: 63 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • My wife, no lover of brats nor beer, gave this recipe 5 stars, two thumbs up and a rousing cheer- me too !

    • — Peter on December 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! I made the recipe exactly as written and the brats were juicy and had such wonderful flavor. My hubby skipped the grainy mustard and sauerkraut (I made him try mine first and he just doesn’t like the texture) and he loved them too. I love your new cookbook Jen and we can’t wait to cook our way through it!

    • — Rebecca McNamara on October 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on October 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this for the Packer game today exactly as suggested. Came out perfectly delicious. Family loved it!

    • — Maria Van Dyke on October 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • How can make this for twelve? Can you finish this in the oven?

    • — Mary on October 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, I would just get two pans going. Even if your second pan is a little smaller, you should be able to fit all the sausages in. I wouldn’t recommend finishing in the oven, as I don’t think the sauce will reduce enough. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • This looks delicious and easy! Do you have a favorite sauerkraut brand you use?

    • — leisha on October 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • I don’t. (Honestly, I use the one brand that my store carries and I don’t even know what it’s called.) Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2021
      • Reply

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